264 B- POLEVOI to let the new man go up alone the next day and after two or three flights put him into a "UT-2" training plane, a miniature, plywood copy of a fighter plane. It was cold. The thermometer on the wing registered 12° C below zero. A piercing wind blew into the cockpit, penetrating the instructor's dogskin flying boots and turn- ing his feet into ice. It was time to land. But every time he commanded: "Go in for landing!" through the intercom, he saw in his mirror a pair of black, burning, imploring eyes. No, they did not implore, they demanded, and he could not find it in his heart to refuse, instead of ten minutes, they flew for half an hour. Leaping out of the cockpit, Naumov stamped his feet and flapped his arms; the early frost certainly had a nip in it that morning! The trainee, however, fidgeted with something in the cockpit for a while and then alighted slowly, and reluctantly it seemed. When he got his feet on the ground he squatted near the wing with a happy, really intoxicated smile on his lips, and with his cheeks flushed by the frost and excitement. "Gold, eh?" the instructor asked. "It got me right through my flying boots, but you are wearing ordinary shoes! Aren't your feet frozen?" "I have no feet," answered the trainee, continuing to smile at his own thoughts. "What!" ejaculated Naumov, his jaw dropping with astonishment. "I have no feet," Meresyev repeated distinctly. "What do you mean, you have no feet? Do you mean there's something wrong with them?" "No, I have no feet at all. These are artificial." For a moment Naumov stood riveted to the ground with amazement. What that queer fellow had said was unbe- lievable. No feet! But he had just been flying, and flying well!... "Let's see," he said, and there was a note of apprehen- sion in his voice. This inquisitiveness neither annoyed nor offended Alexei. On the contrary, he wanted to put the finishing touch to the surprise of this funny old fellow, and, with a gesture like that of a conjuror performing a trick, he lifted the legs of his trousers.